A ‘TV deprivation’ study found that most viewers can’t break away from the BBC – even when they vow to give it up.
The nine day-long study saw 70 families, 48 of which claimed they either wouldn’t pay the licence fee or wanted it to be made cheaper, locked out of all BBC services for over a week.
After nine days, 33 of the 48 families started clucking for the Beeb and said they were happy to cough up.
Retired sales manager Mike O’Donnell, told the Radio Times, which arranged the study: “I just thought the licence fee was another tax, and not good value for money. But being without the BBC was absolutely dreadful, just awful. I just didn’t realised how much we watched it.”
Related: How to save £8,000 by never paying for the TV Licence and Five BBC TV Licence myths bustedO’Donnell said that the adverts on other channels ‘drove me nuts’ and described ITV’s weather reporting as ‘Mickey Mouse’ quality.
Ironically, this news arrives in the wake of the BBC having to end its 93-year relationship with the Met Office, meaning the BBC’s weather output might not be as good at O’Donnell remembers it.
The full findings of the study can be seen in the latest issue of the Radio Times, on sale now.
The Radio Times was until 2011 published by BBC Magazines from 1937 until 2011, when it was sold to Immediate. BBC Worldwide still licences the title to Immediate, even though the BBC has no hand in its publication any more.
While it’s interesting to see people change their tune after abstaining from BBC content for less than a month, it would have been more interesting and accurate to see how families would have got on by completely cutting the cord.
DeThe TV Licence costs £145.50 a year and is legally required for all households to watch live TV.
Under the current rules, catch-up content is exempt from licence fee requirements. In other words, you can opt out of paying for a TV Licence and still make use of BBC iPlayer, provided you only watch catch-up content, although this could soon change.
Right now the rule of thumb is, no licence, no live TV. This means that the families taking part in the trial legally wouldn’t have been able to watch ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5 on their TV set either.
The future of the licence fee in its current form is in doubt. Culture secretary John Whittingdale, who previously called for the fee to be scrapped and replaced with a household tax, has launched a consultation about the future of public funding for the Corporation.